Bill Cunningham – Fashion Climbing

I just found my must read for this fall – it turns out Bill Cunningham, the beloved New York street fashion photographer, left behind a memoir about his life in the fashion industry. Cunningham was notoriously shy about his own past when he was alive, but it seems he wanted the last word!

In a preview of the book in today’s New York Times, a quote from the first chapter touches upon Cunningham’s childhood and his stern Catholic mother: “There I was, 4 years old, decked out in my sister’s prettiest dress. Women’s clothes were always much more stimulating to my imagination. That summer day, in 1933, as my back was pinned to the dining room wall, my eyes spattering tears all over the pink organdy full-skirted dress, my mother beat the hell out of me, and threatened every bone in my uninhibited body if I wore girls’ clothes again.”

The balance of the book is more about his personal story of working through the fashion industry from stockroom boy, to milliner, to photographer of New York’s most fashion-conscious elite. Although a few characters don’t come off too well, like columnist Eugenia Sheppard, the book is less a tell-all tale than a personal memoir.

Penguin Press is publishing the book this year for a September release.

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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